Wednesday, December 18, 2013

kuntslers suburban hell


I admire the heck out of Kunstler.  He might be a reformed vegetarian, a Damn Yankee, and whatever else, but he was one of the first to see a more realistic collapse scenario and write one of the better books on it.  But I’d still like to question some of his more rabid conclusions on his anti-suburban stand.  From his Leave It To Beaver fantasy of small towns, most of his other writings followed.  Nothing wrong with that of course.  I hate big cities and am not especially fond of the smaller ones either.  What I question is his assumption that people chose to waste most of our petroleum endowment on suburbia out of cussedness, stupidity or greed.  The way I see it, we as a people chose the way we did out of simple economic interest and you couldn’t have really expected any other outcome.  Remember, in the fifty odd years we built our industrial economy ( I call it plateaued around the end of WWII, but I’m sure that could be nit-picked ), we had so much in the way of resources-food and ore and fuel- that it made sense to waste it as fast as we could.  That was the economic paradigm we built.  Only AFTER that did suburbia really start to sprawl on a massive scale.  It is my contention that suburbia was an economic choice to combat the beginning of our ride on the right side bell curve.


The first casualty of our declining ( or, at least stalled ) industrial economy was decentralization.  In those days, consolidating made a lot of sense ( since then, it has become gospel long after it no longer works and is in fact harmful ).  The second casualty was massive surpluses.  As the industrial economy lost momentum, all the parasites that had attached themselves in times of plenty became a drain on the system.  And so entities started driving up the costs.  By the 70’s, the factories just needed a small push to leave- the system had been used and abused for years.  And as cities started pushing the homeowners to keep them in the economic lifestyle they had become accustomed to, homeowners pushed back.  Too high of taxes, too few police services to keep crime down or not enough budget to keep the potholes filled, the lure of suburbia was there.  It made economic sense to buy a car and commute rather than take a short bus drive to work if the schools were better, the cops did a better job, and etcetera.  These were all obvious recently, but perhaps overlooked as push/pull forces in the fifties and sixties.  The Arab Oil Embargo didn’t suddenly appear out of left field to decimate the country.  The seeds had been planted far before that.  Our world economic standing was built on unlimited resources, and those reached the plateau in the Second World War.  Our control after victory drew in foreign resources which worked but not as well.  After the 70’s it was only a gentlemen’s agreement with the Saudi’s that kept us in power. And now there is nothing but self-delusion.  Suburbia was just a rational way to deal with our contraction on an individual basis.  Too bad it helped things get worse ( kicking the can usually does ).

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  1. Many small towns now that are anywhere near a decent size urban area have also changed dramatically since the 1970's. Most have become commuter towns with a high rate of people moving in and out as the children of locals go elsewhere for jobs and people tired of the city move to the small town. There is a lot less cohesion and a lot more oil dependence in these towns to commute to work, and the centers of these towns have been gutted in favor of driving to a box store 20 miles away, etc. I guess my main point is that lots of small towns now are not any better than the suburbs in terms of self-reliance, social cohesion, etc. Every survival plan stinks, but I'd still rather be within biking distance of a small town, but out in the sticks where I just have a few neighbors to work with. I could feed a few extra mouths in the sticks, but in tough times a whole town would gut my supplies in the name of social justice, thank me, and then toss me under the bus. The townfolk might feel more guilt about it than in the burbs, but the outcome is the same.

    1. I don't think they would feel ANY guilt, justification being a wonderful opiate.

    2. I think what Anon is saying is too broadly put. I have almost no doubt that small towns, even bedroom communities, have more social cohesion than decentralized suburbia: if only because decentralized suburbia is pretty close to having zero of any of those elements.

  2. Pink Floyd - The Post War Dream

    Tell me true tell me why was Jesus crucified
    Is it for this that daddy died?
    Was it for you? was it me?
    Did I watch too much t.v.?
    Is that a hint of accusation in your eyes?
    If it wasn't for the nips
    Being so good at building ships
    The yards would still be open on the clyde
    And it can't be much fun for them
    Beneath the rising sun
    With all their kids committing suicide
    What have we done maggie what have we done
    What have we done to England
    Should we shout should we scream
    "What happened to the post war dream?"
    Oh Maggie Maggie what have we done?


    1. I love PF- and I had noi idea he lamented post-imperial Britain.

  3. Two gays are in a house screwing. It catches on fire.

    Which one gets out first?

    - The one on the bottom because his shit is already packed.


    1. Thank you! I needed a chuckle to start the day.

    2. Well, then why we're at it, here's another along the same lines.

      Why is it so easy for Richard Simmons to move?

      Because he's had his shit packed for years :D

      Speaking of shit. I heard that one of the dudes from duck dynasty got ousted from the show for capping on the turd burglars?

    3. I love all gays, lesbo's and trans-gendereds. They make for good jokes.

  4. I would include the creation of the Federally backed 30 year mortgage into the equation. Mortgages used to be more like a series of balloon payments which made it much more to whether the economic ups and downs. The slow accumulation of building stock used to be a big deal.